Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Confessionals: Big Mama


And, we're back! I got my act together enough this week to post the Friday Confessionals and my confessional this Friday... it's a big one. Literally. And it's a little vain.

Ya'll, since becoming a mother; I have never had lower self-esteem about my looks. That's because I have never looked the way I do now. I seriously think I have some serious self-image issues; and thus, the reason I am the photographer and very often not the subject of a photo. That's because when a regular, well-adjusted person see this image:

I see this:

Being a mother has made it really, really hard to find time for myself. And, what little time I do get; I spent it sleeping or thinking about sleeping or worrying about Bea.

That's a large (emphasis on large) part of the reason that I weigh the most I have ever weighed in my entire life (aside from being pregnant).  On top of that, (obviously) very few of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit. Yes, I was in pretty good shape (Remember the Tri or Machupicchu?) and had just come off a 30 pound loss at Weight Watchers! But still. It's incredibly depressing to only stare at my "good clothes" instead of wearing them.

But! All of that is going to change. At least, I hope so. I'm so tired of feeling horrible about myself. Plus, what kind of example am I setting for my daughter? I want her to grow up feeling confident about herself; and that's not going to happen with a mother who mopes about in a bathrobe and a Moo-Moo all day (I'm only half-joking about the moo-moo).

So, this past Monday I re-joined Weight Watchers; and so far (granted it's only been 4 days) it's going really well. I've been sticking to my Points and I haven't felt starved or deprived of anything. And, I've already been making smarter snack choices when I do feel hungry.

And, we joined the gym. I realize joining is only half the battle; so Casey and I agreed on a workout schedule that gives us both equal time to exercise and get back in shape. Plus, I'm thinking of joining back with my ol' Faithfuls at Stroller Strides for their upcoming 5K training program. I once ran a triathlon... I want to at least be able to run a 5K again.

So there it is: I'm a Big Mama. But that's only temporary.

What's your confessional this week?  Now it's your turn to come clean with just one measly way that your life is perfectly imperfect...

There are only two rules to this link-up:
1) Please don't go confessing to anything majorly serious (like, oh, I don't know; a felony)
2) Be sure to link back to our blog and include the handy-dandy blog button at the top of the page (Just highlight the code, press Ctl+C, and copy into you "Edit HTML" tab)

**If you don't have a blog, but still want to participate, leave your confession in the Comments section below! And, even if you're not a mom or a homemaker, I'm sure there are still a few ways which your life isn't always hot dates and fancy dinners, right? Oh, please tell me that's the truth!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Following the leader...

Beatrice Kate has always been a very good mimic. It's only been lately, however, that Casey and I have had to take notice and edit the things we say and do around her. That's because it will surely be repeated (in public) later. I was trying to think of how to best showcase my little mockingbird and I can think of four really good, recent examples that highlight her.... uh, abilities?:
  1. The Target Poo: Two weeks ago, Bea and I ran into Target for a (supposed) quick trip. Usually, I wait to do any errands until after her morning, well, diaper change. But this morning, it was starting to get on to near 11; and that's just pushing it too close to lunch and naptimes! So, I did what any responsible parent would do- we went on our merry way. About 15 minutes into the Target experience, I see The Face. I knew it was about to be Go-Time so I began to wrap up my browsing; hoping to make it back to the car before a blow-out. No such luck and before I knew it, she was stinking it up. To make matters worse, after she was... finished, she started waving her hands around shouting, "Shew, Shew, Stink, Shew, Stinky Stink". It caused quite a scene with the mid-day Old Lady Shopping Crowd. I could tell the moment that they entered the "Stink Bubble" and it went from "Oh, sweet baby talking and being cute" to "Oh, Dear. Lord. What is that?!?" We paid as quick as we could and got the Hades out of there.

    I couldn't figure out where Bea had learned to equate Pooping with "Shew" until the next stinky diaper change, when I found myself saying, "Shew, Stinky" and joking around with her. Uh, Bingo! I'm trying to limit my editorials now during diaper changes.

  2.  The Pity Party: This weekend,while driving back from my mothers, Beatrice Kate had a Mother-of-All Meltdowns about having to sit in her car seat while driving (I know, we're The Meanest Parents in the World, remember?) Eventually, through all the tantrum and wailing, we figured out that she was saying, "So Sad. It's soooo sad. Sad. I'm sad" That would be because my loving husband tries not to give into her tantrums over silly things (like riding in a car seat or wearing a diaper) and often jokes with her by saying, "Oh, it's so sad. BeaBea is just so sad".

  3. Affrin Addict: We've been recovering from an Epic Cold here at the Collins House. My husband, Casey, likes to combat a sniffley nose with Saline Spray. At some point, Beatrice Kate must have been watching him because she brought over the bottle last night; and before handing it over, tried to sniff a little spray in her own nose! It was cute; but also a good reminder to keep any and everything potentially harmful out of her little grabby reach. 'Cause really, nobody wants to be the Mom that calls poison control because their kid gets Mentholatum in her eyes. Note: Daddy, I'm looking straight at you.

  4. Phone Operator: Even though Casey's office is only 2 minutes away, we often talk throughout the day on the phone. Usually it's just for quick things and nearly every time, we'll end the call with "Ok, I love you, Bye!" This morning, Beatrice Kate picked up my iPhone and started carrying it around saying, "Hello, Dad. Love, Bye". It was so sweet! Now, I just need to make a mental note never to fuss at him when she's within earshot.
It's so much fun (and also, so scary) to watch Bea pick up on things so quickly. She's certainly got her own personality, but she is obviously influenced by us. It's a good reminder to start modeling good behaviors for her and edit ourselves when we want to act on bad ones.

Like this little habit, she picked up from her father:

What funny things have your kids mimicked from you? 


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What I'm loving Wednesday ...

Hola Faithful Readers (Daddy)! I should come up with some kind of clever, catchy name for our regular blog readers... Worker Beas? Friendly Beas? Bea-utifuls? Anyway I get side tracked easily. Enough of that tangent.

It's Wednesday! And seeing as I was a total slacker last week, I should have double the amount of stuff I'm loving this week, right? Yea. Something like that... Here goes:

First up this week, I'm loving the fact that Bea's nursery mural is finally complete and her room doesn't look like a crazy art student's studio anymore!

I'm loving that both my husband and I are finally over this horrible-no-good cold we've been fighting for days. Being sick at the same time and being parents of a very mobile toddler is awful.

I'm loving that the new Fall shows and season premieres have started debuting! So far, my favorites are: New Girl (on Fox), Grey's Anatomy (once I got over last season's dismal portrayal of a 23-weeker's birth and NICU stay), and of course... Modern Family. I nearly wet my pants watching that last week.

I'm loving this recipe for Cashew Crusted Salmon that I made for dinner last night. It was Ah-Mazing.

I'm loving that during our drive home from our weekend excursion, I looked back to check on My Precious and this is what I saw:

If nothing else, she was inventing ways to keep herself entertained during the drive. Of course, 30 seconds later, it was an all out conniption to get out of that car seat.

I'm loving that this weekend, we're rumored to be getting some Fall-like weather! I'm over this sweltering hot mess that's been plaguing us lately.

I'm loving my Pinterest finds for the week:

Now I just need someone to come and create all these things for me, because? Let's get honest. I'm not crafty and it will never happen if left up to me.

I'm loving this toy that I bought for Bea at IKEA last week. We're not usually the "Buy your kid a new toy for the heck of it" kind of family, but for $7? It was worth it. Actually, she's probably loving it more than I am. She'll spent up to 20 minutes playing with it; and in Mom Time, that's like 2 hours:

And finally, if you couldn't tell, I'm loving My Sweet Baby, Beatrice Kate, who this week, picked out a baby doll all by herself. I'll leave it at that:


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nursery Mural: The Reveal!

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was planning to paint a tree mural. Well, actually, my mother was supposed to paint it but that didn't pan out. So, instead,  I had to tune into my inner Craft Mom and step up to the (artistic) plate.

As it turns out, painting a mural is fun. And painting a mural of something simple like a tree is even, dare I say it? Easy, peasy. Once I got over my reservations about putting my paint brush on wall, and kept repeating to myself: If it looks like crap, I can always paint over it.

So, here it is; step-by-step (sort of) photos and all. At the end, I'll include links to all the materials I used; you know, in case you decide you'd like to deface your walls too.

First, you need an outline:

I tried a few things and thus, learned a few things about outlining your mural. 1) Don't use pencil. It's easy to erase, but that's just it: you have to spend time erasing it. 2) Don't use blue chalk. It doesn't fully wipe off and I can still see a little of the outline if I squint and lean my head to the side a little.

Next, get started with your painting:

You'll really only need to tape at the bottom where the tree trunk meet the floor board. I didn't tape around the sides of the tree. That's because I wanted an excuse for why it was bumpy I wanted it to look more realistic.

I also use a single color for my tree trunk and branches:
That's because I was too afraid I would screw it up if I tried to get all Pablo Picaso and paint shadows and highlights. Of course, I ended up painting those anyway when I forgot to shake the paint can before applying a second coat. Eh, Happy Accident.

Then it's time to add leaves. Because I (and I really can't stress this enough) I'm not crafty at all, I knew that I couldn't make uniform leaf shapes without a stencil. So, a couple of Whole Foods bags later and Voila! Stencils were born: 
After the first color of leaves, I thought it looked a little too much like Christmas lights:
So I added a second leaf color for contrast:

Then I got really creative and crazy and mixed together a little Mod Podge, water and silver glitter:
 And, I washed the trunk in that Hot Mess. It gave it a super whimsical, fun feeling:
It looks like dandruff in this photo, but trust me- it's cute.
Next came the really fun part; decorating. I saw an idea for 3-D birdhouses at Pottery Barn Kids and thought they would add the perfect touch to Bea's tree. However, they came with a $27 price tag per house and that just wasn't within budget. So, instead I went to Michael's and bought a few $2 and $3 plain wood birdhouses and painted them in vibrant glittery shades with regular ol' craft paint:

And finally, it was time to add the Aviary Inhabitants of Bea's tree. After searching for weeks on Etsy, I found a great set of Owl and Bird wall decals on Amazon for less than $20. It's amazing how expensive those things are!

Anyway, once I got everything adhered to the wall, the mural was complete! Take a look at the final product:

I have to toot my own horn a little on this one. The pictures I took really don't do it justice. I guess everyone will just have to come over and see it in person. Trust me, it looks nice. Beatrice Kate seems to like it as well. Each morning she wakes up saying, "Tree, Bord (bird), Oowwllls" and then laughs and smiles. I guess she could be laughing at my attempts at art, but I'd like to think it's her way of expressing approval.

I really thought by the end of this thing, Bea would have a few paint splotches on the wall and we'd be calling it an "impressionist" tree. But, I think it turned out great and is a unique addition to her currently-underway Nursery Re-do!

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the complete reveal of her Nursery-to-Toddler Room Transformation!
Tree Trunk Paint Color: Purchased at Lowe's; My Color inspired by Pantone Color: Griffin
Leaf Paint Colors: Purchased at Micheal's Craft Store on Clearance; Delta Creative Cermacoat Paints Colors: Village Green (light) and Medium Foliage Green (dark)
Bird House Colors: Purchased at Micheal's Craft Store in Crafting section; FolkArt Extreme Glitter Acrylic Paints Colors: Purple, Fuchsia, Aqua 
Wall Decals: Purchased on Amazon, Lot 26 Studio Add-Here Collection

Monday, September 26, 2011

If Crazy is genetic... I'm doomed.

This weekend was hardly restful. Instead of lounging around watching Real Housewives of NJ and eating ice cream healing like a normal sick person would do, I packed up Busy Bea and headed west to help my mother move out of her rental home.

Getting there a couple of days ahead of the Big Move on Saturday, I used the extra time to visit with my grandmother: Nana. I can't remember how much I've talked about Nana on this blog; but I would venture to guess that it's not been enough. Aside from being an establishment in our family; an institution for our genes, she is, simply put- kinda' nuts. And  I mean that in the nicest possible way.

It's not really her that puts on the Crazy, it's more of the All-Day-Every-Day Fox News that's constantly streaming across the television(s) in the house that clouds her better judgmental. She trusts people of authority completely: the (Fox) news anchors, Sarah Palin, George W. Bush (actually, let's just make this any and all Republicans), doctors (though, not those in hospitals), police officers (one of her son-in-laws who happens to be one, in particular) and Dr. Oz.

If you've been keeping up with current new trends lately, then you'll already know that last week, Dr. Oz sunk the proverbial Sh!t Creek, when he announced to the world (and trusting old ladies like Nana) that apple juice manufacturers are poisoning our children with arsenic.

Naturally, Nana failed to see the follow-up reports from the FDA, the CDC and other rational news outlets and scientific researchers who proved that Dr. Oz if full of crap and conducted an invalid study.

So on Thursday, when I arrived at Nana's with Bea to spend time with her, the first conversation we had went something like this:

Me: Hey, Nana! We're here!
Nana: Oh. Lord. Ashley, what kind of juice does BK drink? You could be killing her.
Me: Uh. None? She doesn't get juice unless she's sick.
Nana: Don't give her the Mott's.
Me: Well, not a problem because she doesn't get juice.
Nana: And, there's another brand too. Don't give her Gerber. That has the highest number of arsenic.
Me: Ok, again, it's not a problem. She doesn't get juice regularly.
Nana: I just saw it on Dr. Oz. Apple juice kills babies.
Me: Uh, say Wha?
Nana: Motts and Gerber, don't give her those brands. They'll kill her with arsenic poisoning.
Me: Ok. But just to recap: She doesn't get juice so, it's not really a problem.
Nana: I saw it on Dr. Oz so I know it's the truth.
Me: Slamming my face into a wall She doesn't get juice; but if she does I'll be sure to stay clear of the Arsenic Juice.
Nana: OK Good. Did you eat yet? Want some cake?

I should have known we were in for it at that point. But later in the visit, we had a conversation like this:

Nana: Don't give BK salt.
Me: Uh, yea, not a problem. She doesn't get it anyway.
Nana: Good. Because, salt will raise her blood pressure. That's what my doctors told me. No salt because it raises my blood pressure.
Me: Are you sure that's not because of the 50+ years you were a smoker? Maybe that's what causes high blood pressure
Nana: And make sure she stays away from Motts and Gerber Apple Juice.
Me: Right. We covered that already.
Nana: Here BK, want an M&M?

I love everything about Nana; including her terror-filled stories of arsenic-poisoned, salt-cured babies. It makes me laugh and it makes me look forward to getting old; when apparently, you get free license to say whatever the heck you want.

Like the time she called me a "Bleeding Heart Liberal Hippy" for being fan of NPR... but that's a story for another day.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Newest Mrs. Collins

This past weekend, we were honored to help welcome the Newest Mrs. Collins into our family. Note: No, we haven't converted to Fundamentalist Mormonism.
The Newest, and prettiest, Mrs. Collins

Casey's little brother, Evan, married his long-time sweetheart, Leah at a vineyard in Northern Virginia:

At first, as you know, I was really hesitant to leave Beatrice Kate for our first weekend away since her birth. How would she do away fro me? How would I do away from her? But in the end, we both did great! Throughout the weekend, my father being the excellent photojournalist that is is, sent Blackberry updates and photographs to help calm any fears I had:
Matching Mohawks a requirement
Apparently, they did a lot of eating, because all of the photos we received were of her stuffing her face:
Tired of the Blackberry Paparazzi already ...

All the way up in Virginia, Casey and I were doing great too. Turns out, a little time away from your offspring does a marriage good :
The wedding and the venue were so beautiful; and it was hard to believe that just a short hour before the ceremony began, it was raining. Hard:

My fabu mother-in-law made the flower ball-hanging-thing (I don't know the classy word for it):

Casey served as the best man, and was so proud to stand beside his brother:
Leah's mother walked her down the aisle:

I was very keen to watch Leah's mom, Elaine, during the ceremony. Leah is her only child, like Bea is to me. I asked her before the ceremony how she was doing, letting her only child get married and move away. I  specifically asked her because I wanted to get a glimpse of the emotions that I'll feel on Beatrice Kate's wedding day. She said something wise and beautiful like, "Oh, you just have to let them go and become individuals.. However, what I wanted to hear was, "Wherever she moves, move in next door." I'm going to be the best worst mother-in-law.

The ceremony had elements of a traditional, church wedding; like vows and ring exchanging:
Wait. Is this the right couple?

But it also had the perfect amount of personalization from Evan and Leah; complete with an off-script, part-time motivational speaker as the preacher:
Funny Man McGee.
And an exchanging of the wine goblet:
Starting this marriage off right.

Naturally, they sealed the deal with a kiss:

After the ceremony and a few hundred feet's walk, we were treated to an elegant reception and lovely table settings. Evan and Leah, being the world travelers they are, matched guests to their dinner tables, by using countries they have visited or lived in over the years:

Of course, there was dancing; even though it was sometimes questionable:
Notice my husband's signature dance move: The Frat Boy Snap.

And car-destroying. Actually, that kind of got out of hand and a little rowdy. Below is the only suitable image I can show that doesn't need a giant "CENSORED" box strategically placed::
Thankfully, the Vineyard had Windex. 'Cause this could get really uncomfortable in the daylight.

There was a little bad behavior all around:
Daddy's off-duty.

And then, we said good-bye and went home the next day in my head. What actually happened is a little less pleasant...After the main event, the wedding party and guests went back to the hotel for an "after-party". For me, this after-party involved a hotel-lobby cappuccino. Exactly 45 minutes after drinking said coffee, a wicked-case of food-poisoning set in and well, the flight home was miserable.

But, we made it and were greeted with not only a happy, spoiled baby; but a shiny new grill and two steaks for grillin':

Seriously? The best babysitters ever? Uh...YUP.

Anyway, congrats Evan and Leah! And, Leah, welcome to the family. You know, that family that I happened to have married into as well :)